Basically, this season only permits you to use the Essentials books and the new Dungeon Survival Handbook or Dragon content "supporting" those books (which apparently includes Dragon 399). It also rewards you for creating a drow, dwarf, goblin, kobold, or svirfneblin character.
EDIT: I know not every DM running Encounters enforces these, but the store I play at does, which is why I am asking for help in this thread with working within the constraints.
So, I am trying to do something within the following parameters:
Race: Drow, Dwarf, Goblin, Kobold, or Svirfneblin* (other races from HotFK and HotFL are legal, but these are optimal)
Class: Cleric (Warpriest), Fighter (Knight), Fighter (Slayer), Rogue (Thief), Wizard (Mage), Druid (Sentinel), Paladin (Cavalier), Ranger (Hunter), Ranger (Scout), Warlock (Hexblade)
Theme: Bloodsworn*, Deep Delver*, Escape Thrall*, Trapsmith*, Treasure Hunter*, Underdark Envoy*, Underdark Outcast*, Alchemist, Chevalier, Explorer, Guardian, Guttersnipe, Knight Hospitaler, Mercenary, Noble, Ordained Priest, Outlaw, Scholar, Seer, Wizard's Apprentice
Background: Bloodsworn*, Deep Delver*, Escaped Thrall*, Trapsmith*, Treasure Hunter*, Underdark Envoy, Underdark Outcast* (Basically, the only skills you can make class skills or get the +2 on are Arcana, Athletics, Bluff, Dungeoneering, Endurance, Insight, Intimidate, History, Nature, Perception, Religion, and Stealth)
(* is stuff that is only in The Dungeon Survival Handbook, which has now been added to the character builder)
So far, my Encounters DMs have not looked that hard at feats and what-not, so it looks like beyond the Race/Class/Theme restrictions there is a good amount of freedom. Also, I think this is an opportunity to see what Char-Op folks can do with races like Kobolds and Goblins that don't normally see much love around here.
I am looking for help, so please, please post any builds you can make work, but I will post builds of my own as well (to be utterly taken apart, I am sure). Like I said, I am a newbie, so most of you all will know way better than me what works and what doesn't. These builds aren't just for me, but for other new players, and I think seeing what a low-level character can really do with the stops taken off will help sell 4E virgins on sticking with the game.
Of course, this is Encounters, so while seeing high-level stuff is educational, the only levels that will see actual play in the season are 1st-3rd, so that is where I am focusing, on characters that bring the pain in early Heroic Tier.
Thank you in advance for any help.
FYI, the exact Character Creation Guidelines are read as follows:
If you’re like most players, you’ll want to build your own 1st-level character to bring to D&D Encounters, using the standard character creation rules presented in the Rules Compendium, Heroes of the Fallen Lands, or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.
Of course, you can also use the D&D Character Builder to create your character as well.
Generate ability scores for your character using the standard array (method 1) or point buy (method 2.)
This season, you can choose character options from any of the following rules sources: